Massive GM delivery blocked at sea by Greenpeace (20/6/2004)

Greenpeace today prevented one of the world's biggest ships from docking at Bristol and unloading a huge cargo of American GM crops.

1.Activists board 'GM' cargo ship - BBC
2. Massive GM delivery blocked at sea by Greenpeace

1.Activists board 'GM' cargo ship

A group of environmental protesters have boarded a ship which they claim is carrying genetically modified crops in a bid to stop it entering Britain.

The Greenpeace campaigners met the French vessel Etoile as it approached Avonmouth docks near Bristol, a coastguard spokesman confirmed.

They have prevented a pilot from boarding the ship, but the captain remains in control, he added.

The activists say they will leave only when the ship returns to America.

The ship was nearly three miles south of Breaksea pilot station, where pilots board ships and steer them into their destination dock.

But the pilot was unable to board because the activists had lifted the ladders, said the spokesman.

He confirmed that Barry Dock lifeboat has been put on standby.

The ship's cargo was thought to be animal feed, he said.

Locked climber

Ben Stewart, of Greenpeace, said four members were on board the ship and around ten more were in boats around it.

The Etoile was carrying GM maize from America destined for dairy farms to feed cows, he claimed.

"Because we don't think this stuff should be coming into the country we sent three speedboats and got climbers on to the boat," he said.

"We have put a climber on to the pilot ladder and he is locked on to it.

"We are negotiating with the captain and telling him we will only leave when he agrees to go back to America."

Greenpeace carried out a similar action in February 2000, when they ambushed a ship carrying GM soya off north Wales.

2. Massive GM delivery blocked at sea by Greenpeace
GM maize was set for supermarket dairy cows
19.00 hrs Sunday 20th June 2004

Greenpeace today prevented one of the world's biggest ships from docking at Bristol and unloading a huge cargo of American GM crops.

Four climbers from the environmental group used a jet boat and caving ladders to board the 125,000 tonne ship in the Bristol Channel. The Panamanian-registered MV Etoile has gone to anchor off Rhoose, South Wales.

The shipment of GM maize was destined for dairy farms that supply milk to Britain's biggest supermarkets. Despite promising to remove GM-fed products from their lines Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Safeways all sell own-brand milk from cows fed on American genetically-modified crops.

Greenpeace campaigner Sarah North said: "Our climbers have stopped a massive GM cargo unloading in Bristol, but now we want this ship to turn around and go back to America.

Supermarkets like Sainsbury's are supporting these shipments by selling milk from cows fed on GM. They said they 'd keep GM off their shelves, but by supplying own-brand GM milk they're letting it in to Britain through the back door."

Four climbers are hanging off the ten metre high side of the Etoile with banners saying ' STOP GM IMPORTS '  below the logos of the major supermarkets. The climbers include a Baptist minister, the Reverend Malcolm Carroll and former Welsh sheep farmer Huw Williams.

 Herds of Greenpeace pantomime cows have been invading Sainsbury ' s stores up and down the country for several weeks, informing customers about the supermarket's GM policy. Sainsbury's has now promised to trial non-GM milk in 105 of its stores but is continuing to support GM imports, like the one stopped today, by selling millions of pints of own-brand GM milk. A recent report showed that retailers could easily take GM out of their dairy lines at no extra cost to customers. Marks & Spencer has already removed GM from its milk lines.

 Official DEFRA figures compiled by Greenpeace reveal that a million tonnes of maze and soya is entering the country every year from countries that grow GM. Growing GM cops is harmful to the environment, leading to huge increases in the use of powerful chemicals on crops. The effects of the technology are unpredictable, and no reputable studies have been conducted into the safety of GM food.

 Sarah North added:  " The big high street retailers would like customers to think GM is no longer an issue, but every few weeks huge shipments of GM cross the Atlantic because of the hypocritical policies of supermarkets like Sainsbury ' s. "


 For more contact Greenpeace on 07801 212967 / 0207 865 8255

 Notes: In 2003 the UK imported one million tonnes of soya and maize from countries that grow GM, 444,000 tonnes of which was maize. The vast majority of which came from the USA - http://statistics.defra.gov.uk/esg/statnot/mcompspn.pdf <http://statistics.defra.gov.uk/esg/statnot/monsumpn.pdf. Because GM maize is widely grown in the USA a significant percentage of the MGF imports into the UK will be GM. The latest figures estimate that 40% of the maize grown in the USA is GM. MGF is exported from the USA in bulk tankers by companies such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland and is unloaded at places like Avonmouth in Bristol. The chances are that this imported feed will not be labelled as GM, even though new EU labelling legislation came into force in April. Once in Bristol it is transported to animal feed companies, such as BOCM Pauls, who have storage facilities around the country. From here the MGF is transported to farmers who then feed it to their dairy cows. The milk is subsequently collected and processed by dairies then distributed to the major supermarkets.

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